House Armed Services Committee Passes NHPA Amendment

On Wednesday evening, Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-SC) proposed amendment to the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the House Armed Services Committee. The amendment – based on language proposed by Rep. Issa (R-CA) (H.R. 135) – would allow heads of federal agencies to block or revoke National Register listings for reasons of “national security,” a term not defined in the proposal.

The amendment passed 35-27, largely along party lines, with two exceptions: Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) voted against and Rep. Brad Ashford (D-NE) voted in favor. Rep. Turner (R-OH), Co-Chair of the Historic Preservation Caucus, initially expressed concerns about the amendment, but ultimately did not cast a vote. Reps Davis (D-CA), Tsongas (D-MA), and Bordallo (D-Guam) all spoke against.

SHA’s Government Affairs counsel Cultural Heritage Partners, PLLC worked closely this week with partners at NCSHPO, the Trust and the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) in an effort to defeat the amendment. Despite the cooperation with these partners – as well as great support from SHA members, many of whom reached out to their Reps’ offices to voice their opposition – the amendment is now part of the House NDAA and will head to the House floor. We anticipate this could happen by the third week in May.

SHA is continuing to work with our partners to identify a House member willing to offer an amendment to strip this language from the bill. We will also focus on the Senate, as we did last year; last year’s Senate (when it was majority Dems) did not include a similar amendment in its version of the FY15 NDAA. We will work to make this happen again.

Please keep an eye on SHA emails and social media next month, as we expect to ask members once again to reach out to their Representatives. While we do not have a confirmed date for the floor vote, we expect the House to take up the NDAA sometime during its next session, from May 12 to 21. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact Eden Burgess (eden@culturalheritagepartners.com) or Terry Klein (tklein@srifoundation.org).

Contact your Representatives to Maintain the NHPA

SHA’s Government Affairs counsel just learned about a possible amendment to the National Historic Preservation Act that would significantly impact the protection of land and sites, allowing federal agencies to prevent inclusion on the National Register due to concerns about “national security.” We urge all members to contact their Representatives in the House — particularly those on the House Armed Services Committee (see here) — to voice your opposition to the amendment. A sample email is provided below.

Please note that time is of the essence because the markup is scheduled for this Wednesday. Contact Terry Klein (tklein@srifoundation.org) or  Eden Burgess (eden@culturalheritagepartners.com) with any questions.

Thanks for your help with this critical issue!

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Dear Representative ____:

My name is ______ and I am a constituent. 

I understand that this Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee will be marking up the NDAA and that the markup may include consideration of a bill that would amend the National Historic Preservation Act to allow federal agencies to object to the listing of a site on the National Register due to “national security” concerns (HR 135).

I strongly oppose such an amendment, as it is overly broad and the amendment is poorly drafted. In addition, I am aware that last Congress, DoD’s Maureen Sullivan, Directorfor Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health at the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, testified against a similar bill (HR 3687) as unnecessary and likely to cause confusion. Ms. Sullivan also testified that DoD sees no benefit to the bill and that DoD has never been stopped from maintaining or repairing any building, or from conducting any training exercise, because of the National Historic Preservation Act’s requirements. NPS and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation also oppose the bill. 

I urge you to oppose this amendment to the NDAA. Thank you.

COME TO PRESERVATION ADVOCACY WEEK IN WASHINGTON, DC!

Society for Historical Archaeology members are invited to join the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) and Preservation Action for Preservation Advocacy Week, March 2-4, 2015! Preservation Action and NCSHPO organize Preservation Advocacy Week each year, bringing over 250 preservationists to Washington, DC to promote sound federal preservation policy and programs. Active participation from SHA members will ensure that historical archaeology is an integral part of the preservation discussion.

Highlights:

  • Programming on Monday afternoon, March 2.
  • Hill visits on Tuesday, March 3.
  • Reception on the Hill on Tuesday evening, 5:30 pm.

The preliminary program is available at http://www.preservationaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/preservation-advocacy-week-prelim-program-2015.pdf.

Cultural Heritage Partners, SHA’s governmental affairs consultant, is planning to take SHA members attending Advocacy Week to the Hill to visit Congress. This is a great opportunity to meet with your Congressional representatives and to discuss the value of historic preservation and historical archaeology!

Please email Marion Werkheiser and let us know if you plan to attend!

marion@culturalheritagepartners.com

 NCSHPO has secured a room block at the Fairfax Embassy Row hotel. Rooms are $239/single, $259 double and you can book by calling 1-888-627-8439, code 7266. More competitive rates may be available at other hotels in Dupont Circle (check out www.hotwire.com or www.kayak.com). We encourage you to stay in the Dupont Circle neighborhood for convenient access to Preservation Advocacy Week events and Metro transportation.

Please register at: https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1663726